Taste a local gin and think of summer days.
At least, that was our plan. We didn’t expect such a sharp start to spring, with the daffodils crowned with snow! However, our local distilleries keep on making gorgeous gin, and we want to celebrate their craft.
What better way to do it than with a glass of something special and the curious stories behind this lovely liquid?
All good things must have a beginning, and gin is no exception!
It actually started off as medicine. In the first century, alcohol was combined with juniper as a remedy for chest ailments. The same was true for the Dutch invention ‘genever’, used to treat stomach ache, gout and gallstones.
‘Genever’ skipped across the channel in the 16th century, delighting the British public. It’s thought that ‘genever’ was too much for a drunk Brit, so the name became ‘gin’, much easier to say. The drink also changed, from a malt whiskey with juniper to the clear, pure liquid that we love today.
Gin In Britain
There was no stopping the gin-loving public. They discovered the gorgeous pairing of gin and gingerbread, enjoying them on the frozen Thames as part of the famous ‘Frost Fairs’. It sounds picturesque, but this was a dark time in the history of gin. Everyone was making their own local gin, throwing in turpentine, sulphuric acid and other deadly ingredients.
Things started looking up, thanks to compulsory licences and better regulations. Even the navy adopted this spirit, including it in sailor’s rations. When journeying to places with a risk of malaria, they sought ways to make the horrible-tasting quinine a little more palatable. Schweppes produced their infamous ‘Indian Tonic Water’, which the sailors mixed with gin. They even popped in a lime for its anti-scurvy properties, and thus an absolute classic was born.
After centuries of adaptation and experimentation, gin became a fragrant, fruity masterpiece, with flavours of juniper, honey, violets, raspberry, sugarplum, cardamom…not forgetting local gin and its unique tastes!
A Citrus Spirit
Citrus gin is super-popular, even with hundreds of other flavours available.
Back in the 1700s, middle-class families could only afford to consume citrus on a holiday, so a drink made with orange or lemon would automatically feel like a treat. We still feel that way today – a citrus gin feels like a summer luxury, even in the depths of winter.
Take our February Drink of the Month, a Beefeater Blood Orange Gin. We mixed it with lemon tonic and served it with a blood orange slice, a real treat on a cold winter day.
We don’t just choose well-known brands for our Drink of the Month. We showcased a delicious local gin during March and, in doing so, discovered some curious links between spirits and sports.
A Local Gin For Sports Fans
What is the spirit of rugby? Well, apparently it can be summed up in a different kind of spirit!
Rugby Distillery is on a mission to capture the very essence of rugby. It helps that their local gin is produced at the birthplace of the sport, where William Webb Ellis apparently picked up a football and pelted towards the goal, thus ‘inventing’ rugby. In fact, their gins actually include grass from the field in which this event took place!
That’s not the only ingredient that characterises these spirits. We chose the Lemon Menton Gin for our March Drink of the Month, made with a lemon grown in the French town of Menton. It seems that this is actually the resting place of the famous Webb Ellis!
Come And Find Us!
Do you have any more facts about local gin? We would love to chat about it over our Drink of the Month!
You’ll find The Four Penny Pub at 27 Crompton Street in Warwick. Simply pop in for a drink or get in touch to book a table. You can also head to our website to discover our food menus, the perfect accompaniment to our drink selection!